With attendances down and their fan base in turmoil, the controversial European owner of a West Yorkshire football club is reportedly preparing to employ his fifth manager inside a year.
Bradford City are rock bottom of League One after an embarrassing 4-0 defeat at fellow strugglers Gillingham on Saturday, carrying the heavy baggage of off-field chaos that many Leeds United fans will sympathise with.
It’s a role-reversal that not many could have seen coming even just a couple of years ago. Whilst Massimo Cellino’s reign of carnage rumbled on, Leeds’ noisy neighbours turned up the music, riding a wave of promotions, League Cup final appearances and FA Cup giant-killings even the most ardent rival fan would have been impressed by.
Indeed, it’s not so long since you’d have got short odds on the Bantams sharing a division with Leeds the following season. As it stands, it seems the two clubs could well find themselves bookending the league structure next time out.
Leeds’ last league visit to Valley Parade came on this day 18 years ago.
Live on Sky, the pre-match build-up was dominated by the debut of new City man Stan Collymore, who had been signed on a free transfer from Leicester as the Bantams rolled the dice on a campaign that already looked to be heading for disaster.
Leeds, on the other hand, had raced into the season in fine goalscoring form and had won six of their previous seven league matches, crashing to a 3-0 defeat to Manchester United before drawing 1-1 with Barcelona five days previously. As stumbles go, this one was understandable.
But with matches against Liverpool, Milan and Chelsea on the horizon, it was one they needed to stop, and fast. What transpired was a scrappy West Yorkshire derby that ended in a unsatisfying 1-1 draw.
And it was Bradford who started the brighter of the two teams, Valley Parade alive with the excitement of derby football.
Leeds fans have forever talked down any rivalry between the two clubs, arguing that their battles are picked higher up the food chain, and whilst the notion that passion for it has always been more intense in BD postcodes, it is perhaps more real than many Whites would care to admit.
That was evident in the noise produced during a fraught affair, ignited by a piece of class by Collymore n 21 minutes into the game.
Taking advantage of a generously spacious Leeds defence, the troubled former England man contorted his body to produce one of the Premier League’s more memorable goals, an overhead kick that sailed past a 21-year-old Paul Robinson.
Leeds had two headed efforts cleared off the line, but it would be fair to say that it was the relegation candidates that had the better of the opening exchanges.
City’s Italian trickster Benito Carbone, perhaps bouyed by the presence of Collymore, ran rings round an out-of-sorts Ian Harte throughout the first half.
Both sides traded blows, but it was the break that acted as a clear watermark in the fixture, Leeds taking the better of the second period.
They were made to wait, though, before an 80th-minute Mark Viduka header from a Dom Matteo chip ensured the points were shared.
Leeds, of course, would go on to reach the semi-finals of the Champions League, while Bradford would slip into the second tier, not before a 6-1 thrashing at Elland Road in the season’s penultimate game.
An awful lot has happened at both clubs in the intervening years. Football in West Yorkshire is never boring.
Bradford City 1
Leeds United 1 (Viduka 80)
Premiership, Sunday, October 29, 2000
Bradford City: Clarke, Nolan, Wetherall, Whalley, Atherton, McCall, Lawrence, Beagrie, Petrescu, Carbone, Collymore. Subs: Ward, Sharpe, Davison, Saunders, Grant.
Leeds United: Robinson, Kelly, Woodgate, Hay, Harte, Matteo, Dacourt, Bowyer, Bakke, Viduka, Smith. Subs: Jones, Burns, Milosevic, Evans, Hackworth.
Referee: S Lodge.